Trust Me. Or At Least Have a Cup of Coffee With Me.

photo[1]Does anyone remember a time when this conversation could have happened?

Personnel Chairperson to Church Board:  After considerable conversations with her and others, we have voted to let go of our Youth Minister.  We hope you’ll trust this decision.  Her last day will be Friday.

Church Board:  Thanks for letting us know.  How can we support you in this transition?

There are many reasons – often very private reasons – for firing someone:

  • secret addictions
  • not playing well with others behind the scenes
  • mental illness
  • physical illness
  • financial misconduct
  • sexual misconduct
  • random boundary issues
  • terrible fit

Maybe because information is so accessible and we demand it, and because choices are countless (and we like to make our own choices.  Can you say, “Half caf, double shot, extra hot skinny mocha?”)

We do not trust People In the Know to make decisions for People Not In the Know.

I’ll admit that it makes me wonder in a “Have-they-screwed-this-person?” kind of way when I hear that someone has been fired or asked to resign, and I personally don’t know why.

  • But what if the reason why would embarrass the person?
  • What if releasing information could bring about a lawsuit?
  • What if not releasing information could bring about a lawsuit? (e.g. we assume someone is fired for utterly nefarious reasons, but it was just a bad fit?)

Trust issues are huge in the church right now.  It used to be true that we trusted our leaders simply because They Were Our Leaders.  We were dutiful followers.

Today we must increasingly rely on authentic relationships.  If I thoroughly trust ___, I don’t need to know why he fired _____.  I might be curious, but I don’t really need to know.  And I probably won’t trust _____ unless I have a solid relationship with him.

I work for a Presbytery which – perhaps by definition – means I am not trustworthy.  I work for The Man in The Mother Ship which some might even call The Death Star.  We ostensibly are the entity that says, “No.”  We keep people from doing what they want to do.  We make them follow meaningless procedures.

But I find that I am trusted by congregations who know me.  I’ve spoken at their meetings.  I’ve presented my 21st Century Church road show.  I’ve preached in their pulpits.  I’ve listened to them over coffee.

Can we agree to try to 1) deepen relationships in the institutional church and then 2) trust those people to do the work of the church necessary to transform congregations?

Or will we continue to assume that our leaders are trying to pull a fast one on us?

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2 responses to “Trust Me. Or At Least Have a Cup of Coffee With Me.

  1. Good one, Jan!

  2. A really important (but often not considered) question. Thanks for writing.

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